Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Inflating an Old Balloon

Today, shortly after I woke up, I went into the living room and saw, through the window, someone up on my porch stealing my bike. I banged on the window and shouted that it was my bike, and the guy (who looked very out of place in Squirrel Hill) said that he thought it was free and sprinted away. I don't know where he lives, but on-the-porch does not mean free in Squirrel Hill. I was tempted to run out the door and chase him, but i wasn't very dressed. It bugs me to see this kind of thing here. Needless to say, I took my bike inside. I might be a bit more careful with what I leave out on the porch, and I may keep a baseball bat or some other LART handy for if he returns.

Last night, while watching a movie, I noticed that my TV is starting to go. This is very irritating because I barely need my TV as is, and I'm not far from the point of not needing it at all, so replacing it isn't very attractive. I may get a projector or a giant LCD and get a midrange computer with video-in to serve as a TV instead. That may be expensive, but it seems like the best route. I'll probably wait until my current TV dies completely first, or at least malfunctions more. My finances are still uncertain until the damages to my old place are completely summed up, so it'll probably be in about a month. One silly part of my mind claims that the universe is frustrated that it can't continue to have car things break for me so this is some form of revenge. Heh.

I've been listening to music from a videogame sequel to the Nightmare before Christmas called Oogie's Revenge. It's a mixed bag -- it includes some variations on the (very good) Nightmare Before Christmas stuff from Danny Elfman, but I get the impression that Elfman himself didn't contribute directly to the project, and the voice actors are all different from the movie. For some characters, the difference is minor (Jack and Oogie are both pretty decent), for others, they didn't put much effort into getting a good Seiyuu (Lock, Stock, and Barrel's voices are terrible).

I stumbled across Wikimapia, an effort to annotate Google Maps with user-supplied content. As of the time of this writing, it's ludicrously silly -- there are six sites in the United States:

  • US Capitol Building in DC
  • A Kroger in Columbus Ohio (to my friends in Columbus -- is that GhettoKroger, NorthCampusKroger, or some other Kroger? (note: Kroger is a supermarket chain)
  • A specific building at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida
  • "Blocker building" somewhere in southeast Texas
  • "Giant Triangle" in Utah
  • Rainbow Bridge, Utah (a town?)
England, not to be outdone, has three sites:
  • Stonehenge
  • Some dude's house
  • "Pac-Man"?
It's a cool idea, and the interface to add new sites is quite slick. Maybe it'll be worthwhile someday.

An interesting quote from a discussion on legal use of wikipedia:

  • i look at wikipedia kind of the same way i look at the Bible in that you aren't really sure of the credentials of the guys/gals that wrote it, but you are pretty sure nobody would be that cruel to lead you astray in your quest for knowledge. i agree with psion too: wikipedia is more a trigger to learn from more trusted sources.
It's interesting in that it doesn't question a certain thing I think needs questioning. I am in some eyes a rabid atheist in the sense that I think the world would be better off without religion. The means I would use would not be, by and large, legal ones (I would remove state privilege for religion, and do some other minor things, but I would not make any thrusts towards making religion illegal because I believe the state should support a great deal of autonomy for its citizens). I am do not assume bad faith on the part of religious leaders - I view religion as (among other thungs) a set of ideas that (usually) captivate people and set their lives inside of a narrative (providing a moral story, a story of people, and many other themes). Sometimes these are nice stories, and it doesn't take a religion to live inside a narrative -- I think most people are living inside of a number of layered stories through which they see their lives. We sometimes choose our friends by how well they help us maintain these stories, and these stories do have a certain amount of reality in the sense of being a pattern (illusions and abstractions have a complex relationship). Part of what makes sites like Livejournal appealing is that they help us see other peoples' stories, and understand them a bit better. It's easy to fail to appreciate that other people have these kinds of stories as well, and to decide that religious leaders are simply seeking power and control. I've heard fellow atheists make this mistake, and I generally chide them for it. I don't think this is the case for the majority of religious folk -- I think it's likely that most of them are playing the parts in their narratives of doing good (this is not meant to be diminutive, as I fill this part in my narrative as well). It is laudible that they have a notion of the good and are working towards it (I know some people, some of which I used to call friends, who live inside a larger narrative that's shaped like "They messed with me, so now I'm out to get as much for myself as I can"). I assume good faith on their part, even though I don't like the larger framework they're living in or what the effects of enough people living inside of it has on society. To return to the quote, I would suggest the word "intentionally" be added before "lead you astray", and note that knowledge is tied to some concepts that are contentious.

Thinking about the interaction between these stories and my metaphysics of values is going to take me some time -- are they different at heart, or can one be understood in terms of the other? Are they both even equivalent given some transformations? Hmm. I also want to think about the relationship between illusions and abstractions, and how the numerous definitions one might choose for both relate. Some would say that I'm reducing a philosophical problem to a terminological problem, but I disagree because I don't believe there's only one conception of these terms that all the words are really referring to. Holding the lack of "true concepts" instead gives us a smorgasboard of conceptions to select form, some overlapping.

Tags: philosophy, wikipedia

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